on 2 March 2013
Despite now being 19, I still love Disney movies. I'm really just a big kid at heart. My favourites are definitely the films of Disney's "Renaissance" (i.e. Tarzan, the Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Hercules). Pocahontas was one of the films released during this period, in 1995. As I was born in 1993, I didn't see this film when it first came out, or if I did I don't remember it. My mum didn't take me to the cinema until I was about 5 or 6, and I plan on doing the same with my children as I hate crying children at the cinema. I did really enjoy Pocahontas though, and I remember the first time I saw it.
I've wanted to watch a lot of the Disney sequels for a while now, and recently I bought a few of them including the Hunchback of Notre Dame 2 and the Fox and the Hound 2. Disney movies are expensive though, and even renting them is expensive (and the employers in Blockbuster judge you if you rent 5 children's DVDs without a child with you). I recently added the Sky Movies package to my Sky account for a month using my Ciao earnings, which were slightly higher than normal last month. This comes with Disney Cinemagic, who this week were showing Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World. I scheduled it to be recorded as soon as I saw it on the planner and managed to find the time to watch it this morning.
Pocahontas tells the tale of a well known Native American figure, the daughter of a tribal chief, Pocahontas. It is a love story between a Native American and English explorer, John Smith and Pocahontas. Pocahontas saved John's life by stepping between him and her father, who planned on executing him. At the end of the film, John Smith is shot by another settler, Governor Ratcliffe, and has to return to England for medical treatment.
The second film carries on from the first, telling the story of Pocahontas' visit to England. The film introduces John Rolfe, Pocahontas' real life husband. He is sent to the New World by King James to bring back the chief of the Indian tribe. The chief declines to go to England but Pocahontas is more than willing to go in his place, offering herself for the job. Rolfe is reluctant to take a woman back as a diplomat but agrees and they soon set off for London. On arrival, Pocahontas looks upon the city in wonder. She attends a ball held by the king, dressed in English formal wear and seems to get on well with those present, but soon causes a scene when the entertainment is revealed to be bear bating and she calls all of the Englishmen savages. Pocahontas is arrested and her tribe soon becomes threatened when the king sends an armada their way, but the story has a classic Disney happy ending.
Both the original and the sequel were historically inaccurate. I'll go into more detail on how this film was historically inaccurate later on.
Did you enjoy it?
I thoroughly enjoyed it. As a teenage man I think I'm supposed to enjoy action and horror films, but I still love a good kids film. One of my best friends, who is 25, recently watched The Smurfs movie with me, so I know I'm not alone. It was one of the better Disney sequels, having a strongly related story line to the original. Unlike many sequels, this one was based on actual events and I think that gave the Disney writers less scope to f*** it up. They took many creative liberties but the point of the film is to entertain families, and while it is somewhat educational I don't think Disney were trying to paint a full and accurate picture of Native American relations with the English settlers.
It was a great film, with good voice acting, with almost all of the performers from Pocahontas returning (the exception being Mel Gibson who voiced John Smith). The animation was great, and the soundtrack was good but not memorable.
While not 100% historically accurate, the story is pretty close to what actually happened to Pocahontas in the 17th century. It has been romanticised, and is a heart-warming love story between a Native American and an English settler. It is an interesting and enjoyable story, set against a dark part of American and English history.
Pocahontas was a film fraught with historical inaccuracies and this one is no different. Here are just a few of them:
At the beginning of the film, a ship sails towards the New World (specifically, Jamestown, Virginia). The ship is seen to be flying the current Union Flag (i.e. the amalgamation of the Saltire, St George's Cross and St Patrick's Saltire). Pocahontas was alive from 1595 to 1617. At this time, the ship would have flown the Flag of England, as the Acts of Union didn't take place until 1707. Additionally, it wasn't until 1801 that Ireland joined the union and the flag became that which is shown in the film.
The characters say they are sailing to Great Britain. While this has long been the accurate name for the island, the Kingdom of Great Britain was not established until the Acts of Union 1707. London was a part of the Kingdom of England in the days of Pocahontas.
John Smith was not a fugitive. He continued to explore after his encounter with Pocahontas and the Native Americans near Jamestown, and later was made a knight.
John Ratcliffe was killed in 1609 by Native Americans. Pocahontas didn't travel to England until 1616 and so John Ratcliffe would have played no part in the story.
When Pocahontas travelled to England, her name was Rebecca Rolfe, and she had already married John Rolfe. She did, indeed meet John Smith, but was angry with him over a deal he'd broken with her father.
The Native Americans weren't entirely blameless in the violence. Some of their violence was unprovoked, such as the murder of John Ratcliffe and 14 of his men. The English were not blameless in the slightest but the Native American hostilities were ignored in the film.
King James was not the King of Great Britain. He was King James VI of Scotland and King James I of England and Ireland.
Pocahontas would have been about 21 when she first arrived in London, and to me she seems older than this in the film. She was 12 when she saved John Smith from execution and she doesn't seem to have aged at all between films.
These inaccuracies don't really affect your ability to enjoy the film, but they are a little annoying if you notice them. I am someone who pays a lot of attention to insignificant details like this. Disney does not pretend this is an educational film - it's meant to be entertaining and that's what it is. I do wish the settlers were called "English" rather than "British", as we Scots had nothing to do with the conquering of other nations. Scotland didn't have any empire at all until the Acts of Union (unless you count Shetland, which I don't).
Characters / Performances
I love the story of Pocahontas because she was a kind, gentle woman who supported her people but also wanted peace with the English. She seems like the equivalent of a modern-day liberal, just wanting people to treat each other equally. John Rolfe also seems like a decent character, despite being something of a bigot when it comes to women. He instructs the men on the boat to treat Pocahontas with the respect any diplomat would receive, and in the film at least doesn't seem to be as closed-minded about the Native Americans as the rest of the English (who all insist they are savages). He looks out for Pocahontas at several points in the film, such as making sure she fits in at the ball and describing the incident with the bear as a misunderstanding.The animals have got to be my favourite characters. Unlike some Disney films (e.g. The Fox and the Hound and The Aristocats), the animals in this film don't have speaking parts. They are still quite funny, with Meeko the raccoon being my favourite as he's constantly annoying Percy, a dog left behind by Governor Ratcliffe at the end of the previous film. Meeko eats all of the treats before Percy has a chance. Flit, the hummingbird, doesn't really play a pivotal role in the story but travels to England with Pocahontas, Meeko and Percy (the animals all stow-away on the boat to London).
The soundtrack is rather unmemorable. Pocahontas featured a very memorable soundtrack, with greats such as "Colors of the Wind" and "Just Around the River Bend" being extremely well known. I love a good Disney sing along, but I didn't find myself singing along to any of these songs. I've found that almost all Disney sequels have awful soundtracks, a notable exception being The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea. I can't really even remember any of the songs and wouldn't be tempted to buy the soundtrack on CD, if it existed.
Value for Money
This is currently one of the cheaper Disney DVDs. Most of them will cost you £10 or more for a new copy, but you can get Pocahontas II for £6.59 on Amazon (brand new, including postage). Used copies will cost you £4.99 (plus £1.26 postage). If you shop around, you might even be able to find it cheaper. Or, if you have Sky, you could always wait until it's showing on Disney Cinemagic again. They do tend to repeat films quite often.
How does it compare to similar films?
Compared to other Disney sequels, this is quite a good one. It's based on historical fact, so unlike most sequels the story had already been written before Disney got their hands on it. Pocahontas was definitely one of my favourite Disney Classics and I'm really pleased that Pocahontas II is such a good film. It's only let down is really the soundtrack, and for British watchers the historical inaccuracy is a bit of an annoyance. Overall, this film compares very well with similar Disney films.
I loved this film and think kids will love it too. It's got a good story, if a little fraught with historical inaccuracy, and the characters are just as good as they were in the original. The soundtrack let it down a bit, but it's still enjoyable.
© 2012, Clydesdale Enterprises
This review was submitted by a Clydesdale Enterprises employee. The views reflected in this review do not necessarily reflect the views of the business.
Submitted by Terry Black
This review can be found on Amazon, Ciao, DooYoo and eBay.